CHESTER singers have been treated like TV stars as they make it to the final stages of a BBC show.
The women’s choir, A Handbag of Harmonies, was one of only 60 choirs invited to London to audition for the latest BBC talent series Last Choir Standing.
Almost 1,000 choirs entered the competition which is due to follow in the successful footsteps of BBC talent searches to find Maria, Joseph and Nancy and Oliver in the series How Do You solve a Problem Like Maria? Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything.
Before heading to the capital last Saturday, the BBC cameras followed the choir around the city as they rehearsed songs, practised choreography and prepared for their big day.
They filmed Wednesday night’s rehearsal at Queen’s Park High School and caught up with some of the 50 singers as they went about their lives.
A cameraman followed singers Sian Brett and Alli Hancock in training for Sunday’s Chester Half Marathon and ecologist Julia Drage conducting a great crested newt survey in Westminster Park.
They filmed artist Lesley Haliwell dropping off her son Patrick at Dee Banks School before joining her back at her studio.
On the day before the trip to London, the crew visited Claire Smith, founder of the choir at her home in Victoria Pathway. There she joined fellow ‘Handbags’ at a tea party hosted by Dilys Dowswell, one of the original members of the choir which was founded in 2000. The group were filmed painting their nails, choosing their handbags and planning lavish picnic lunches for the journey.
Jane White, who sings with the choir, said: “I felt like a superstar!”
Just before departure musical director Matt Baker and singer Catherine Jones were filmed having breakfast at the Garden Lane café before setting off. Matt said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic to get through to this stage of the competition. We are not really a choir who exist to compete, just to work hard in order to entertain.2
“If we get any further in the competition, which I obviously hope we do, we will be relying on the people of Chester to vote for us!”
A group of supporters including husbands and children of the women, waved the singers off with banners and pink balloons.
The show, which will hit our screens this summer, will be presented by Hear’Say singer Mylene Klass and tenor Russell Watson has been named as one of the judges.